FEARS have been raised of deep cuts on the horizon after a council revealed it has to lop £1.5m off its budget over the next few years to balance the books.
Gosport Borough Council needs to save £660,000 from its budget in 2017/8, and then £866,000 in 2019/20 – a total of just over £1.5m.
The less that we become reliant on grants and look after our own personnel circumstances the better.Councillor Mark Hook
Council leader Mark Hook thinks it will be able to cope – but members of the council’s policy and organisation board expressed their reservations about the scale of cuts needed.
Councillor Peter Edgar said: ‘We have to bear the brunt of the biggest cuts that have ever happened in local government.
‘We’ve provided more for less which is coming to an end.
‘We are trying to become more business-like and run successfully but that can only go so far.’
Lib Dem Councillor Peter Chegwyn said: ‘We can’t rely on volunteers doing the work that the council should be.
‘It looks like three of our four libraries will close unless volunteers take them over. It is a very worrying time for local government.’
However, Cllr Hook said the council aims to have control all of the business rates it collects by 2020.
Previously this money was collected by the council and sent up to Whitehall to be redistributed around the country, but the council is optimistic it will retain rates from the area and so not be reliant on Westminster handouts.
And although concerns have been raised about the effect there may be on services, Cllr Hook believes the authority will be able to cope under high demands.
He said: ‘We want to look to run the council like a business in the future.
‘We have got to make the cuts by 2020 to get the entire completion of the business rates and I would welcome the day that we no longer are reliant on government grants.
‘The less that we become reliant on grants and look after our own personal circumstances the better.’
The council has recently made £157,000 in capital receipts for sales of land at Brookers Field, Toronto Place and Little Woodham Place.
Cllr Hook added: ‘The extension of Gosport Leisure Centre means that we will get further income.
‘There’s also been planning permission that has been approved for a coffee shop to open on the same site which we are speaking to people about.’